Should You Hoard Copper Pennies? Reasons To Save Every Copper Penny You Find

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You may have heard a lot these days about people who hoard copper pennies and wonder why they are.

After all, if you’re like most coin collectors, you probably know that silver coins have historically been the big pocket change prize.

Many people hoard copper pennies - because they are worth more than face value.

However, the times they are a-changing, and the value of copper has skyrocketed over the past few years.

People are beginning to hoard copper pennies in the opportunistic pursuit of someday cashing in on the coins’ intrinsic value.


Copper Pennies Are Worth More Than Face Value

In general, all pennies made before 1982 have a composition of 95% copper and 5% tin and zinc – with the exception that during some of those years, there was no tin in the alloy. Also, there was the steel 1943 Lincoln cent (and 1944 steel pennies, which were made in error). Those coins are a topic for another post, though!

During the year 1982, the U.S. Mint switched the composition of pennies to copper-plated zinc to avoid the rising cost of producing copper pennies. As a result, some pennies made in 1982 are made from copper and others from that year were produced with the current mixture of 97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper.

You can tell which pennies are copper or zinc by weighing them:

  • Pennies that weigh approximately 3.11 grams are copper.
  • One-cent coins that weigh about 2.5 grams are zinc.

Today, the amount of copper in an old penny is worth a little more than 2 cents. However, zinc pennies made since 1982 are presently worth only face value. (By the way, the zinc penny is popularly called a ‘Zincoln’.)


How To Hoard Copper Pennies

If you want to hoard copper pennies, the best way to do so is to buy rolls of one-cent coins from your bank and check each roll for pennies made from 1982 or before.

You can automatically assume all pennies dated 1981 or before are copper. Those dated 1982 can be weighed to determine which are made from copper and which are primarily composed from zinc.

Re-roll the unwanted zinc pennies and trade these in to search through more penny rolls.


Copper Penny Hoarders Can’t Cash In… Yet

If you’re hoping to get a quick payout on all the copper pennies you’re saving, you might want to hold on – U.S. law prohibits the melting of one-cent coins. Hoping to get around the law by sneaking your coins out of the country? Think again – you can’t transport more than $5 in pennies out of the U.S.

It would only potentially become legal to melt one-cent coins in the United States if legislation passes that ends the production of the penny. But Congress has entertained the elimination of the penny several times, but has yet to actually pass a bill that stops production of the lowly penny.

For the record, Canada stopped making pennies in 2012 because, as is the case in the United States, the purchasing power of a one-cent coin has been eroded by inflation, and the coin costs more to manufacture than it is actually worth in face value.

So why all the fuss about saving copper pennies if you can’t melt them down for cash yet?

Coin hoarders insist that their efforts in saving copper pennies now will be worth it when the time comes that they can legally melt their pennies. Many of these individuals are already selling their copper penny troves to other hoarders for $1 or more per roll of 50 pennies.


I'm the Coin Editor here at TheFunTimesGuide. My love for coins began when I was 11 years old. I primarily collect and study U.S. coins produced during the 20th century. I'm a member of the American Numismatic Association (ANA) and the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG) and have won multiple awards from the NLG for my work as a coin journalist. I'm also the editor at the Florida United Numismatists Club (FUN Topics magazine), and author of Images of America: The United States Mint in Philadelphia (a book that explores the colorful history of the Philadelphia Mint). I've contributed hundreds of articles for various coin publications including COINage, The Numismatist, Numismatic News, Coin Dealer Newsletter, Coin Values, and CoinWeek. I've authored nearly 1,000 articles here at The Fun Times Guide to Coins (many of them with over 50K shares), and I welcome your coin questions in the comments below!

66 thoughts on “Should You Hoard Copper Pennies? Reasons To Save Every Copper Penny You Find

  1. They both weigh at 3.08

    1. Hi, Mojojds —

      Assuming the weight to be correct, this is a 1982-D large date copper cent, and it’s worth about two cents for its copper value.

      Best wishes,


    1. Hi, Mojojds —

      I think you wrote in another post that this coin weighs 3.08 grams; if so, it is a 1982 copper large date and it’s worth 2 cents for its inherent copper value.

      Thank you for your question,

  3. Hi josh! I found memorial cent 1976 no mint mark . Good ?

    1. Hi, Alex!

      Nice 1976 cent! It seems to have very little, if any, wear and has a nice red-brown patina. The lack of mintmark means it was made at the Philadelphia Mint, and it’s worth at least 2 cents for its copper value and at least 10 cents if it’s uncirculated (and it looks like it is but I can’t tell for sure in a photo — it needs to be checked in-hand for signs of wear on the high points of the design). Your 1944 cent (also pictured) is worth 3 to 5 cents.

      Good finds!

      1. Thanks bro, I have this quarter beige

        1. Hey, Alex —

          This quarter has some type of environmental damage, thus lending the beige color. It’s worth face value but still a neat find.

          Always good to hear from you,

          1. Thanks bro..look i found 1956 lincoln cent

          2. Thanks, Alex! That would help if you can get a clearer image.


          3. Hi bro. Small date ?

          4. Hello there, Alex!

            This is a large date — the tops of the “9” and “8” exceed the height of the “1” and “2.”

            Best wishes,


    1. Hi, Alex —

      Hmm… I’m not seeming to find this in the photos I see. Do you mind re-sending images that might highlight this? What type of die error are you asking about?

      Thank you!

  4. Hi Josh,

    Thank you for all the information you provide on numismatics. I always enjoy learning through your postings. I’m wondering what your opinion is on saving (or hoarding) pre-1982 cents for their copper value? Do you save all 95% copper cents that you come across?

    When I search Lincoln cents I do have a desire to keep the pre-82’s for their copper content. However, it seems to me that when the day finally comes that congress passes legislation allowing the melting of copper cents, the overwhelming influx of copper cents will drive down the price of copper per pound (let’s say decreasing by 80% or so.) I wonder whether the value of copper will plummet once citizens are able to melt copper cents? Is it therefore worth it to keep, roll, and store large amounts of copper cents for an indeterminate amount of time, just for a small payoff? I’m just curious about your opinion on this. Thank you!

    1. Hello, Marcus —

      I appreciate your reaching out. Personally, I DO keep all pre-1982 Lincoln cents that I come across in pocket change, roll searching, etc. As you know, these coins are presently illegal to melt, but they do trade for more than face value nevertheless. It’s hard to say what could happen to copper prices when and if the US government permits the melting of copper-based one-cent coins — I’m sure there will be some new market dynamics once that happens. For the time being, I think it’s worth holding aside any pre-1982 cents you come across in cash transactions or casual roll searching, but rather or not there is will be a significant payoff from time spent searching for them in a dedicated fashion (IE spending many, many hours each day, week, or month picking them from rolls and bags) in the future. The best bet is probably still in speculative trading among those who are buying the coins for their own hoards. Then again, I’m not an investment professional, per se, so any decisions you make will ultimately have to be made based on your own outlook — hopefully for those who hoar these coins there will be an eventual, substantial payoff! Fingers crossed…

      Good luck!

      1. Hello Josh,

        Thanks so much for your reply. Yes, I have heard that some people will purchase bulk copper cents online, on Ebay or other sites, but I have personally never sold any copper cents to other hoarders. Have you ever done that?

        So, when you pull copper cents out of circulation are you doing it while also inspecting them for varieties, errors, etc? Or, rather, do you just separate copper cents from zinc cents and that’s it?

        1. Hi, Marcus —

          I have never sold any copper cents for the sake of their intrinsic value, so to speak, so I don’t have any personal observations to share on the bulk buy/trade side. But I can say I do separate out all of my copper cents and then look for varieties later.

          By the way, you might be interested in knowing there are some worthwhile varieties among the post-1981 cents. Check these out:

          This 1982 Copper Cent is Worth $19,000:
          A Rare 1983 Copper Penny:

          Good luck!

    1. Hi, Marcus —

      The one I use is the Superior Balance USb-100. It’s neither the most expensive nor cheapest, but it’s worked well for me. I hope you have a good experience using it, too!

      Best wishes,

  5. hi joshua thanks for everything .. today i have a question, i want to know about lincoln 1982 cent of bronze small date without the letter D. Is it as sparse as the small date 1982D? I ask you because I have searched a lot and I already have 14 or more cents 1982 small bronze date but they are all with big date. however I have small date without the letter D, but zinc … thank you!

    1. Great question, Alex —

      The 1982 copper small date is one of the scarcer 1982 penny varieties, but it is not rare, and it’s still worth only about 2 cents in worn condition –but well worth holding onto anyway for the future. By the way, all pre-1982 copper Lincoln cents are becoming marginally scarcer year by year in circulation as the coins age and more people are learning about the intrinsic copper value of these coins.

      Good luck!

  6. Hi bro! Do you know something about nikel 1988p double die monticello letter

    1. Hey, man!

      It’s good to hear from you. Hmm… I’m not really sure about this one. I’d suggest submitting these photos to CONECA to see what they say and if they can officially attribute it. Here’s their link:

      Good luck, my friend!


    1. Hey, Alex —

      Is the third photo the reverse of the 1990 cent with the bubbly surface? Hmm… the green patches on the obverse of the 1990 Lincoln cent may indicate exposure to some type of caustic chemical agent, though I’m not positive. It’s hard for me to say for certain, without seeing the coin in-person, if the bubbles are caused by something from the Mint with the bonding of the copper plating on the zinc core or caused by a chemical reaction after the coin left the Mint. I’m thinking its post-Mint damage. The folks at CONECA might be able to give a second opinion. Here’s their info:

      Best wishes,

  8. Hi bro tell me ???? About that coin .jpg

    1. Hello, Alex!

      This is a nice, circulated 1950 Franklin half dollar. These contain a 90 percent silver composition, and this date, in this condition, is worth around $8 at this time, given current silver prices.

      I love old Franklin half dollars! Nice find…

  9. Hi New discovery men! Cent 1972 no mint Mark doble eye!!!!! tvOS cent will be famous very soom

    1. Hi, Alex —

      Hmm… I’m trying to make out the doubling in the images. Do you see it in the area of Lincoln’s face?


  10. I hace King coin quarter dóllar 1974 40% Silver clad, 5.24g I dont get nothing about that error , i Was checking in internet to much and nothing get it ,i need help with that coin .

    1. Hi, Alex —

      I seem to remember you asking about this coin before. Did you ever get it checked out by a third-party coin certification company? As you may know, a 40% silver Washington quarter should weigh in at around 5.75 grams, whereas the copper-nickel clad versions generally weigh 5.67 grams. Either way, this is lighter than either, and it might be caused due to porosity on the surface (which this coin may have, based on the photos) or perhaps the wrong metal.

      Here’s more info on third-party coin grading companies:

      You may also consider having the folks at CONECA check this out; here’s their info:

      Good luck, man!

  11. Hey, Alex!

    Cool — the 1982 Small Date copper cent is worth about 2 cents if it’s circulated and the 1990 cent is worth about 10+ cents if it’s uncirculated.


  12. Hey, man —

    I’m afraid the photo of the 1995 cent is a little blurry, so I can’t tell for sure if this is the doubled die. Would you mind kindly re-uploading a clearer photo?

    Thank you!

  13. Hi, Alex —

    There is some heavy machine doubling on this piece. While it’s not worth much over face value (maybe up to $1 or so to those who are interested in collecting such pieces), it’s one of the more fascinating instances of machine doubling I’ve seen in a while.

    Cool find,

    1. Hey josh! I think it is prof cent

      1. Hi, Alex —

        I’d need to please see a higher-resolution image to say for sure. I know you’re probably hoping for this to be a 1990 no-S Lincoln proof cent, but I’m 99.99% sure it isn’t based on the details of the planchet and strike.

        Best wishes,

    2. Aré diferent

      1. Hi, Alex —

        The upper 1990 Philadelphia coin seems to have some planchet bubbling, which is a defect of the copper plating on the zinc core. The lower has post-Mint damage. In both cases, neither is a 1990 no-S proof Lincoln cent. The top one might be worth holding aside, as some folks pay a small premium for such defects. The lower one may be safely spent.

        Thank you for your question!

    3. Take at seat for this date
      1993!!!! Worth date!!!

      1. Hiya, Alex!

        This appears to be machine doubling and is worth at most a very nominal amount over face value. Neat find nevertheless!

        Best wishes,

  14. Hi, Alex —

    It looks like Lincoln seems to have a thick loose thread on his suit! I think this may be a die break, and if so it’s a really neat one at that. I think I’d run this photo by Lincoln variety expert John Wexler for attribution. Here’s his info:

    Cool find!

  15. Hi, Alex!

    Assuming it to be authentic, it looks like the “king” of this group is the 1921 Morgan dollar, which is worth about $16 to $18 in this condition. The 1776-1976 Eisenhower dollar is worth face value as it is well worn and this one is not made from silver. The 1967 penny is nice and may be a toned uncirculated piece worth about 10 cents — I can’t tell in the photo if there’s any wear on the high points or if I’m just seeing patina. The 1962-D Lincoln penny has some damage and is worth 2 cents for its copper value.

    Nice finds!


  17. Hi, Alex —

    I’m sorry to say this is not a 1990 no-S Lincoln proof penny, but it’s rather a circulated Philadelphia version. I’m thinking of some other great pennies you can keep an eye out for that you might have a better chance of finding in pocket change. Consider these:

    *1972 doubled die:
    *1982-D small-date copper penny:
    *1983 doubled die penny:
    *1984 doubled die penny:
    *1995 doubled die penny:

    Good luck, my friend! Please keep reporting your finds. I’m sure you’ll find a winner soon…


  18. Other cent nice color


    1. Hey, Alex —

      Of these, I think the 1958-D may show some signs of machine doubling. I think the rest appear normal to me in these images. They’re all worth at least 2 cents for their copper value, and the pre-1959 wheat pennies are worth 3 to 5 cents each.

      I love that you enjoy pennies! (So do I!)

  20. Hey, Alex!

    Yes, I do see something in the date, especially in the “9” and “8.” Are these the only areas of the coin where there is evidence of possible doubling?

    Looking forward to hearing more,

  21. Hello, Alex!

    It’s good to hear from you. This 1958 penny has machine doubling, but it’s not the rare 1958 doubled die. Here’s a link with photos of the virtually elusive coin, and you’ll see the differences in doubling, especially in the inscriptions:

    I love your spirit — keep looking, man! I’m sure something rare will turn up if you keep looking!

    Good luck,

  22. 2017holograms

  23. Hi, Alex —

    I’m afraid that while other world mints are working on holographic coins, the U.S. Mint has never officially made such a piece, and none from that era have “gotten out by accident,” so to speak. These are neat looking pieces, though. While I don’t see any errors of any kind on these, they’re still neat-looking coins to hang on to!

    Keep looking!

  24. Hi I just recently bought a 1955’s penny on ebay to close out the 41-74 book the 2nd of the first 3 books I’ve been collecting for over 40 yrs this was the first one I had ever bought now when I had bought it , it was to finish the set so when I got it, it said it was UNC so when I was inspecting it in it’s card board case I noticed little blue fibers and some blueish oxidation spots that I thought was chemicals marks when I question the sell about it he insured me he did not clean his coins and didn’t charge me for the penny. The coin had small indentation on it and scratches now this would not had been an issue but it was being sold as UNC and the seller told me the blueish spots was from natural environment causes like oxygen and copper reaction. Now I now a real idiot I would think that a UNC would come from a mint seal 50 cent roll and unless it was on ether end environment wouldn’t have anything to do with it please help me understand real or scam? JB

    1. Hi, JB —

      Would you please upload a clear couple photos of this coin so I can assist further. It’s hard for me to say for sure what’s going on with this coin without seeing the situation… The bluish marks may be verdigris/PVC damage from storage in an old plastic display case or tube, or they could indicate something else. But I’ll be glad to help further once I can get a better visualization of what’s going on.


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